To the one we wronged

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we drove you out of the religion. I’m sorry that we drove you from the path you once embraced with sincerity and passion. The one you once pursued with all that inner strength of yours, that forced you to sit at the feet of those you thought would guide you, enlighten your soul and raise you to great heights. I’m sorry that instead we trampled you under our feet, and slandered your name and spoiled your reputation everywhere we went.

I’m not surprised that you now stand against us. We deserve it. I’m not surprised that you stand witness against our injustices. If I had suffered as you suffered, would I be any different? Wouldn’t I too call out the hypocrisies of this community which thinks itself great, whilst it commits mischief all around? Wouldn’t I too speak of the unending lies, the covering up, the attacks and smears, perpetrated in the name of faith?

I believe you. I believe that what you say about yourself is true. Months ago I tracked you down on social media, and followed your public posts. What you spoke of rung true. You had insight that only one who had lived as a Muslim would know. You spoke of topics that every convert is so well versed in. So yes, I believe you. I believe you were a convert once, honest to God, sincere, faithful and pious. Yes, I believe that in that heartfelt search you were better than the rest of us.

And so I am sorry. I am sorry that we destroyed you and your faith. I’m sorry that we smashed it to the ground, and everyday trample on whatever is left, pulverising it into oblivion. I am sorry that in defence of idols, we snatched the last of your faith from you.

The first time somebody came to us with reports of wrongdoing, perhaps we could be forgiven for doubting. The second time, perhaps the same. But by the third and fourth time, we should at least have taken precautions. Ah, but we wronged many others, just as we wronged you, first sweeping it under the carpet and then going on the attack. What a game! The oppressor becomes the oppressed, the felon becomes the victim. And who dares speak out against the defender of the down-trodden, who brandishes Palestine as a shield, a force-field, to deflect all misgivings and criticism aimed at them? Instead we turned on you.

To this day, we defend the powerful, rushing to uphold their honour, playing deaf and dumb in the face of the law of God. Daily the aggressor is praised for their erudite wisdom, excused for their oppression, lauded by the leaders of community, celebrated everywhere for their brilliance. But you? We witness the daily assault, the unchallenged abuse, the false propaganda, the unwavering lies. And all I can say is this: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that we drove you out of the religion, and continue to do so daily. I am sorry that we are not sincere or true, and care nothing for those who join the caravan, driving them away instead. I’m sorry that the path you once pursued with all that inner strength of yours was used to abuse you. I’m sorry that instead of helping you to reach great heights, we instead trampled you under our feet, and slandered your name and spoiled your reputation everywhere we went.

For all of this we will be held to account, and our words and actions stand witness against us. We will stand one day before the true judge of all the worlds, and we will be asked about the evil we perpetrated in the name of faith. And perhaps — God knows best — the Most Merciful will reward you even for a mustard grain of faith, and recompense you for all that you have suffered at the hands of those who claimed to embody religion.

Please, never despair of the mercy of God. Perhaps you have been given a gift, to see beyond the visage of imperial religion and its dogmatic obsession with an identity of belonging. Perhaps you will rediscover a truer faith, far away from the orthodoxies of populism. Perhaps God will allow to flourish that sincere faith of yours and grant your bruised and battered soul to rise to greater heights.

I pray that you return, stronger than before. I pray that God guides you, and guides me, and all of us. I pray that He has mercy on us. But the truth is, we have wronged you and so many others like you, such that I often wonder: is there any hope for us at all?

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